EPA official admits RFS process taking longer than it should

By Spencer Chase

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, July 17, 2014 - An official with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told members of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) that the renewable fuels standard (RFS) is still important to the agency despite the delayed rollout of the 2014 standard.

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Speaking at NCGA's Corn Congress, EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe said the 2014 RFS rule is “something we need to get done,” but admitted the agency is “behind” and bogged down in about 353,000 comments on the issue. The ruling on 2014 RFS volume levels was originally supposed to be delayed until sometime in June, but there has still been no indication on when a final ruling can be expected.

Perciasepe said he recognizes the gravity of the situation, but still couldn't report anything new to NCGA's members.

“(EPA) had plenty of conversations with farmers, growers, folks in the ethanol industry, and some of those were some of the more difficult conversations I've had in my time at EPA,” Perciasepe said.

Despite the current lack of action on the RFS, Perciasepe reassured those in attendance that the RFS was still important to the Obama administration.

“It's really important to note that renewable fuels and biofuels are part of the president's climate action plan,” Perciasepe said. “We have to have this as part of our country's future plans to deal with emissions of greenhouse gasses.”

An NCGA member from Iowa said he was almost offended at the notion that the EPA was simply behind on the ruling, but reiterated rather that the organization was “grossly behind” on issuing a ruling.

“Those numbers should have been out quite some time ago, and it's hurting (the ethanol industry),” the Iowa member said, emphasizing that the high number of comments would have never happened if the planned volumes were left in place. “The program was working . . . You need to do something about this. It needs to get done.”

Perciasepe simply responded with an agreeable “I hear you.”

The comment period on the 2014 volume levels closed January 28, and the EPA website currently estimates a ruling sometime in July. After the EPA finalizes its decision, the ruling will be sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget. 

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